more constrast in b/w : LUSENET : Black_and_White_Photography : One Thread

I have problems getting good contrast (I like lots) in my b/w prints. One instructor told me I was underexposing - but that did not solve the problem. I do not process/print myself, so the lab could be part of the problem/solution. But, knowing what controls I do have, what can I do differently?

-- Anonymous, January 27, 1997


It might help us to know what film you are using and what film speed you are shooting it at. Regards!-Fred

-- anonymously answered, January 28, 1997

What are you photographing? The subject matter and lighting play an integral part in determining contrast. Also, contrast is subjective in b&w, not like in color. The controls you have are: exposure filtration lighting film choice etc.

-- Anonymous, January 28, 1997

I have been processing b&w for 30 years. I like contrasy negs too. I generally overdevelop my film 20% or so to increase contrast. The trade off is loss of shadow detail and blocked highlights. To avoid that, I try to shoot in light that is as flat as possible and that will not create strong changes in density.

-- Anonymous, January 29, 1997

B&W Contrast

You might try some simple filtration to create seperation of selected tones to give more contrast.Check Kodak data books for info.

-- Anonymous, February 04, 1997


I have found several points of information helpful: 1. Meter the shadows in your subject then close your aperture two stops if you you want detail in the shadows (3 stops if you what black/black). May sound familiar if you have been exposed to the Zone System. A 1 degree spot meter would help in this aspect. 2. A Wratten 90 filter viewer ( I've been told Zone VI has them available) is useful in judging the contrast in a scene. 3. Check to see if your lab uses a developer restrainer in the print developer (10 ml:1 liter) or 4. Selenium toner after washing your print for 5 minutes per instructions. Selenium is a carcinogen. Handle with care. 5. You can also have the negative selenium toned to snap up the contrast.

That is all the mummy dust I can think of to share. Good luck.


-- Anonymous, February 17, 1997

You want contrast? Try Tech pan, developed in Dektol and print with a #5 paper. Seriously-how do the prints look to you? If you want the contrast, do it yourself. Pick a film, filters & processing that will give it to you. At worst, push process a 400 film to 3200 & let the lab print that one for contrast. Do it yourself.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 1997

Alas, Michelle, looking at the date of you query, you've probably come to realize the Only way to get the B&W prints you want is to print them yourself. There are two steps to B&W. The shooting. And the processing/printing; with the printing being the one that contributes the most to the end result. Good luck with your darkroom! Mike

-- Anonymous, November 30, 1997

You say your PRINTS are not contrasty enough...what about your negatives? Is it possible that your not exposing long enough in the printing process. I had trouble with dull prints. I recently found my problem (I think)...When I print I do a test strip, increasing my exposure time till I reach what looks like a good contrast. Then I make a print. Come to find out, my "good contrast" exposure time is really just a "adequet contrast". By exposing for a longer time, untill my test strip looks overexposed, my finished prints are MUCH better. Remember that prints look differant in a dark room and when they are wet. Do a print like you usually do and than do 2 more exactly the same but with 50% and 100% more exposure and don`t judge any of them until they dry. As a beginner myself I`d like to hear from others as to whether this is a legitimate sounding answer or if I`m imagining my success...Contrast has been a BIG problem for me also.

-- Anonymous, August 02, 1998

Develop and print your own B&W. That is the only way to get really great results. Most labs don't do a good job on B&W except very expensive custom labs.

-- Anonymous, September 09, 1998

I agree with Gene. I to had a lot of trouble getting the results I wanted after a very expensive trip. I bit the bullet and learned to do it myself. In a little over a month I not only got the prints I had been looking for but I believe I became a little better of a photographer as well.

-- Anonymous, November 02, 1998

3 ways: #In the field, it concerns the lens, the camera setting and the negatives your using #In the developping tank, it concerns the developer, timing, dilution, temperature, experience, and a touch of luck #In the darkroom,(or the lab) it concerns the paper, the chemicals, etc. It's a pity that you don't develop your own films, for me the main reason to shoot black and white is the full control of your image


-- Anonymous, November 27, 1998

I like Dan Smith's formula for contrast,,,,,it's crazy but it just might work. Thanks Dan, I laughed out loud. ps. I like this kind of advice, It forces the photographer to make mistakes and learn.

-- Anonymous, December 17, 1998

Moderation questions? read the FAQ